Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Reviving The Birthday Spirit (Pt. 3)

It was a week later that Marcie, having sulked and for a day or two before resuming our normal relations, began to prod again. It started from the side, so to speak.

"Frank, what do you want for breakfast?" she asked, not looking at me, but rather standing in the kitchen entrance staring straight at the wall, lips tight.

"Just eggs and potatoes," I said. "Thank you."

"Yeeeap," she said, banging the pan on the stove and starting the gas burner. Cupboards opened and closed with force. Utensils rattled and I stopped reading my Logic textbook.

"Honey?" I asked.

"What?" she shot back, tersely, annoyed.

"You don't have to make me breakfast, you know," I said.

"FRANK! Would you just leave me alone and let me cook?" she spat, looking out from the kitchen, her eyes dark with anger.

"Well, you seem upset, so maybe you should just relax and we can go get some cinnamon rolls from Hob Nob or something," I said. "It's okay."

"You don't want me to cook for you and you don't want me to bake for you or celebrate your birthday," she said. "Of course I am upset! I feel like I am a live-in for a self-pitying jerk who just needs a roommate and a sure thing."

Humor was probably not the direction I should have gone in. But life without mistakes is like being asleep without dreams.

"Well, you make a solid point," I said. "But you shouldn't discount the cooking and housecleaning, those really help, too."

Raw potatoes cut into wedges did not hurt. However, she was not amused in the slightest.

"Fine," she said, picking up the potatoes as she spoke. "Fine. You like sleeping with me and kissing me and being fed by me and having a clean house. But you won't let me celebrate your birthday?"

"Honey," I said, trying to give her a hug. "I was just kidding, you know that."

She wriggled away and stood back, arms folded under her breasts, left foot forward as she nodded. "So we'll celebrate your birthday or we wont?"

"I stopped approaching and looked her in the eye, silent and defiant. I waited.

She moved her head as if to say, "Oh, really?" and her lips parted, her mouth hanged open a bit before she bit her lower lip and spoke.

"Why don't you celebrate your birthday?" she asked. "What's wrong with you?"

I told her one part of the truth. It wouldn't help.

"I haven't celebrated it since I was in foster care, except my 21st," I said. "I just never had anyone remember it after that."

"So I want to remember it," she said. "What's wrong with that? I love to bake, I love you. I want to bake you something special, I want to do things for you on your birthday and I want you to enjoy yourself."

She let me hug her and buried her head in my chest. "I am sorry for throwing potatoes at you, but you can be such an ass."

I nodded and sighed. Deciding to let her in on more of my thoughts and issues was a good idea, but my delivery proved disastrous and my timing perfectly inappropriate.

"I appreciate that you want to celebrate with me, Marcie. I just don't think I have much to celebrate or be proud of this year," I said.

Of course I know now that this struck right at her heart. I realized it as soon as she pushed away from me and said her piece.

"Really?" she asked. "You just think this whole year has been a complete waste? I'm sorry, I had no idea."

She covered her eyes and leaned down, taking her purse and sweater and crying, pushing my hand away as I tried to console her. "You are such a jerk, Frank," she sobbed. "Thanks for making me feel like chopped liver, I needed that!"

And the door slammed. I followed her and pleaded with her to come home all the way to the bus stop in my bare feet.

"I'll be back when I feel like it," she said. "Celebrate that."

The driver stopped me from getting on. "Sir, you have to wear shoes on the bus."

The door closed and the 1 rolled away. She didn't look back.